Growing Pains (Mary J. Blige album)

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Growing Pains
Studio album by Mary J. Blige
Released December 18, 2007
Genre R&B[1]
Length 65:03
Label Geffen
Producer Ron "NEFF-U" Feemster, Dejoin, Tricky Stewart, Jazze Pha, Bryan-Michael Cox, Dre & Vidal, The Neptunes, Stargate, Charles Harmony, Ne-Yo, Eric Hudson, Sean Garrett, Syience
Mary J. Blige chronology
The Breakthrough
(2005)
Growing Pains
(2007)
Stronger with Each Tear
(2009)
Singles from Growing Pains
  1. "Just Fine"
    Released: October 16, 2007
  2. "Work That"
    Released: December 18, 2007
  3. "Stay Down"
    Released: March 18, 2008

Growing Pains is the eighth studio album by American R&B recording artist Mary J. Blige. The album was released on December 18, 2007 by Geffen Records. It debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 selling 629,000 copies in its first week. Growing Pains was ranked #29 on Rolling Stone's list of the Top 50 Albums of 2007.[2]

"Work That" was released as the second single on December 18, 2007 and managed to peak inside the top 20 of the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and number 65 in the Billboard Hot 100. The third official single "Stay Down" reached the top 40 R&B charts, and was chosen in favor of "Hurt Again", which was originally the third single, but eventually was only a radio single by receiving airplay in Spring 2008.

At the 2009 51st Grammy Awards, it won Best Contemporary R&B Album.[3]

Background[edit]

In an interview for Blues & Soul, Blige explained the significance of the album's title, stating:

I started writing the record right after that whole gigantic day I had at the Grammies last year. So it was important to me to get across to my fans that whole feeling I was going through of 'How do I sustain this breakthrough? How do I continue to remind myself I'm in a better place?'... And the only way to continue to stay in that place is to GROW! I believe the majority of people out there, if something uncomfortable is going on in their lives, are forced to either go back to where they were, or to GROW – and that that tension is called PAIN. So the light, happy songs on the album are celebrating my growth. While the less poppy, darker tracks represent the places I'm forced to grow out of. So in that way the title represents the growth, as well as the understanding that – in order for anything to develop – it has to have some kinda tension behind it.[4]

—Mary J. Blige

Singles[edit]

"Just Fine" was released as the album's lead single on October 2, 2007. The single was the only single from the album which was released in multiple formats. The single peaked at #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #3 On the U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. In the UK, the song performed well peaking at #16 on the official chart. "Work That" was released as the album's second single on December 18, 2007. The single charted from digital downloads when the album was released, and eventually peaked at #65 on the Billboard Hot 100 but did become a top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The song "Hurt Again" was supposed to be released as the official third single released from Growing Pains, but at the last minute was changed in the favor of "Stay Down". Between the loss of momentum from the album's first and second single and lack of promotion for the single, "Stay Down" did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100 chart; it peaked at #34 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart.

Reception[edit]

Commercial performance[edit]

Growing Pains sold 629,000 copies in its first week and debuted at number two on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart[5] and number one on the R&B chart[citation needed]. In its second week the album climbed to number one on the Billboard 200 with 204,000 copies sold.[6] In the UK, the album entered the charts at Number 6, making it her highest charting album there since No More Drama in 2001 with first week sales of 21,755. In Germany, the album was her worst one charting, peaking #48 and staying on the German Albums Chart for only 3 weeks.[7] As of 27 March 2010, the album had sold 81,681 copies in the UK.[8]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[9]
The A.V. Club B+[10]
Robert Christgau A–[1]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[11]
The Independent 2/5 stars[12]
NME 7/10[13]
PopMatters 8/10[14]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[15]
Slant Magazine 3/5 stars[16]
USA Today 3/4 stars[17]

Growing Pains received positive reviews from most music critics.[18] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 77, based on 17 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[18] Allmusic editor Marisa Brown gave it four out of five stars and called it "a mature, polished, and utterly professional set of well-crafted songs", noting that "the album takes an even greater step toward pop".[9] Alex Macpherson of The Guardian complimented its themes of Blige's "past and present", while citing the track "Roses" as "one of the best songs of her career".[11] NME commented that it "finds Blige on chirpier form".[13] Michael Arceneaux of PopMatters complimented Blige's "cheerful demeanor" on the album and called it "a good addition to the Mary J. Blige catalogue".[14] USA Today's Edna Gundersen wrote that "Her vulnerability and vocal prowess are undeniable, and resistance melts away as her voice [...] commands and communicates with startling clarity".[17] Steven Hyden of The A.V. Club commended Blige for "reaching beyond the relative stability of her personal life and playing up the vulnerable everywoman persona that's long resonated with her female fanbase".[10] BBC Online's Talia Kraines commended Blige for "keeping it real" and complimented her "empowering emotion".[19]

However, Andy Gill of The Independent commented that "it's hard to tell whether the whiplash snares and crisp handclap grooves [...] are suited to [Blige's] needs here" and criticized "Blige's capitulation to R&B cliché, with all women downtrodden and all men culpable, and a corrosively bling-driven worldview".[12] Slant Magazine's Eric Henderson called the album an "overstuffed collection of affirmations, self-definitions, and keepin'-it-real-isms" and wrote that "what's both most compelling and most limiting about Blige's Growing Pains: She keeps her most salable characteristic, her emotiveness, under duress, which provides tension but no release".[16] Alfred Soto of The Village Voice noted "no more drama, but plenty of (occasionally excellent) melodrama", adding that "as her acting chops diminish, her command over plush, slightly jagged contempo r&b improves".[20] Writing for Rolling Stone, critic Robert Christgau commented that "the tone of her confessions has changed with her music", stating "Growing Pains is an edgier record than The Breakthrough, but Blige has definitely lost or just outgrown the brassy urgency of her twenties".[15] In his consumer guide for MSN Music, Christgau described the album as "an expensive, honorable, credible sampler of the hottest current R&B brands", and gave it an A- rating.[1]

Accolades[edit]

In 2008, at the 50th Grammy Awards, "Just Fine" was nominated in the 'Best Female R&B Vocal Performance' category, losing the award to Alicia Keys' "No One".

At the 2009 51st Grammy Awards it was nominated for Best Contemporary R&B Album and Just Fine was nominated for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical. The album won Best Contemporary R&B Album.[3]

Track listing[edit]

Standard edition
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Work That"   Mary J. Blige, Theron Otis Feemster, Sean Garrett Neff-U, Sean Garrett 3:30
2. "Grown Woman" (featuring Ludacris) Blige, Dejion Madison, Christopher Bridges, Terius Nash Dejion 4:05
3. "Just Fine"   Blige, Nash, Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, Phalon Alexander Tricky Stewart, Jazze Pha, Kuk Harrell 4:02
4. "Feel Like a Woman"   Blige, Feemster, Nash Neff-U 4:02
5. "Stay Down"   Blige, Johnta Austin, Bryan-Michael Cox Bryan-Michael Cox 4:22
6. "Hurt Again"   Mary J. Blige, Andre Harris, Vidal Davis, Brian Sledge Dre & Vidal 4:08
7. "Shake Down" (featuring Usher) Blige, Nash, Stewart, Alexander Tricky Stewart, Jazze Pha 3:36
8. "Till the Morning"   Pharrell Williams The Neptunes 4:17
9. "Roses"   Blige, Nash, Stewart Tricky Stewart 4:35
10. "Fade Away"   Blige, Shaffer Smith, Mikkel S. Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen Stargate 4:15
11. "What Love Is"   Blige, Smith, Eriksen, Hermansen Stargate 4:03
12. "Work in Progress (Growing Pains)"   Smith, Charles Harmony Charles Harmony, Ne-Yo 4:00
13. "Talk to Me"   Blige, Austin, Robert Wright, Eric Hudson, Verdine White Eric Hudson 4:09
14. "If You Love Me?"   Blige, Austin, Cox Bryan-Michael Cox 3:39
15. "Smoke"   Smith, Reggie Perry Syience 3:10
16. "Come to Me (Peace)"   Blige, Nash, Kuk Harrell, Stewart Tricky Stewart 5:01
  • Target released special edition of the album with bonus DVD which includes "Just Fine" music video and the behind-the-scenes footage.

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Growing Pains adapted from Allmusic.[21]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2007/2008) Peak
position
Canadian Albums Chart 41
Dutch Albums Chart 31
French Albums Chart 73
German Albums Chart[7] 48
Greek Albums Chart 42
Irish Albums Chart 47
Italian Albums Chart 44
Japanese Oricon Albums Chart 22
Romanian Albums Chart 8
Swedish Albums Chart 6
Swiss Album Chart 6
UK Album Chart[22] 6
US Billboard 200[23] 1
US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 1

Chart precession and succession[edit]

Preceded by
Noël by Josh Groban
Billboard 200 number-one album
January 12, - January 19, 2008
Succeeded by
In Rainbows by Radiohead

Release history[edit]

Region Date
United States December 18, 2007
United Kingdom February 4, 2008
Brazil February 15, 2008
Canada November 9, 2007
Japan April 28, 2008

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Christgau, Robert (February 2008). "Consumer Guide". MSN Music. Retrieved on 2012-12-30.
  2. ^ Robert Christgau, David Fricke, Christian Hoard, Rob Sheffield (December 17, 2007). Growing Pains top the Billboard 200, charting at #2. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/17601851/the_top_50_albums_of_2007/29 "The Top 50 Albums of 2007"] Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-12-20
  3. ^ a b MTV News Staff (2009-02-08). "Grammy 2009 Winners List". MTV. Retrieved 2009-02-09. 
  4. ^ Pete Lewis Interviews Mary J. Blige, 'Blues & Soul' February 2008
  5. ^ Brandi Hopper, "Mary J. Blige Sells 629K On The Billboard 200, Jahiem & Lupe Fiasco Surprise", sohh.com, December 27, 2007.
  6. ^ Katie Hasty, "Blige Topples Groban, Radiohead Debuts Early", Billboard.com, January 2, 2008.
  7. ^ a b http://www.musicline.de/de/chartverfolgung_summary/artist/Blige%2CMary+J./?type=longplay
  8. ^ "Key Releases". Music Week. 2010-03-27. Retrieved 2012-09-24. 
  9. ^ a b Brown, Marisa (December 17, 2007). "Growing Pains - Mary J. Blige". Allmusic. Retrieved on 2011-04-17.
  10. ^ a b Hyden, Steven (December 18, 2007). "Mary J. Blige: Growing Pains". The A.V. Club. Retrieved on 2011-04-17.
  11. ^ a b Macpherson, Alex (January 25, 2008). "CD: Mary J Blige, Growing Pains". The Guardian. Retrieved on 2011-04-17.
  12. ^ a b Gill, Andy (February 1, 2008). "Album: Mary J Blige, Growing Pains (Geffen) - Reviews, Music - The Independent". The Independent. Retrieved on 2011-04-17.
  13. ^ a b SW (February 1, 2008). "Mary J. Blige - Mary J Blige - Album Reviews - NME.COM". NME. Retrieved on 2011-04-17.
  14. ^ a b Arceneaux, Michael (December 19, 2007). "Mary J. Blige: Growing Pains". PopMatters. Retrieved on 2011-04-17.
  15. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (December 13, 2007). "Growing Pains". Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2011-04-17.
  16. ^ a b Henderson, Eric (December 16, 2007). "Mary J. Blige: Growing Pains". Slant Magazine. Retrieved on 2011-04-17.
  17. ^ a b Gundersen, Edna (December 17, 2007). "Mary J. Blige goes to great 'Pains' - USATODAY.com". USA Today. Retrieved on 2011-04-17.
  18. ^ a b "Growing Pains Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved on 2011-04-17.
  19. ^ Kraines, Talia (February 6, 2008). "BBC - Music - Review of Mary J. Blige - Growing Pains". BBC Online. Retrieved on 2011-04-17.
  20. ^ Soto, Alfred (December 11, 2007). "Mary J. Blige's Growing Pains - Page 1 - Music - New York - Village Voice". The Village Voice. Retrieved on 2011-04-17.
  21. ^ Growing Pains - Mary J. Blige | AllMusic. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2011-04-17.
  22. ^ BBC - Radio 1 - Chart Show - The UK Top 40 Albums
  23. ^ "Mary J. Blige - Growing Pains worldwide chart positions and trajectories". aCharts. Accessed January 3, 2008.

External links[edit]